Delay of over 300 days in replying to an application
The appellant filed a RTI application with a Bank on 03/09/2010 asking for certain information. On not receiving the information within the mandated time, a Complaint was filed under Section 18 of the RTI Act with the Commission. The Commission issued a notice to the Respondent on 05/08/2011 with a direction to provide the information to the Complainant and further sought an explanation for not furnishing the information within the mandated time.
View of the CIC
The person authorised by the PIO submitted before the Commission that the matter was seven or eight years old. Further, the complainant has given a letter on 29/09/2011 stating that he is satisfied with the information and wishes to withdraw her complaint. It was also submitted that the delay was not intentional or deliberate but occurred because the information was not readily available at the local office. It was received from his Head Office in Kolkata on 19/09/2011 and sent to the Complainant by registered post. The Commission held observed that if information is not located within the 30 day period or at best within another month, a PIO must inform the RTI applicant that the information is not available. It is completely unacceptable that a claim is made that public funds are expended for nearly a year to locate information. The cost of providing the information, if this is true, would be horrendous and completely unacceptable. The Commission ruled that it cannot accept such an argument not is in a position to verify the truth of such a statement. The Commission held that if without reasonable cause, information is not furnished within the time specified under sub-section (1) of section 7, the Commission is duty bound to levy a penalty at the rate of rupees two hundred and fifty each day till the information is furnished. For a delay of above 300 days in providing the information, the Commission imposed a penalty of Rs. 25,000/- on the PIO.
If the records were not available with the PIO, there was no way he could have supplied them. Therefore, if there was a delay, it is the deemed PIO who was responsible and not the PIO.
Citation: Ms. Neelam Singh v. Allahabad Bank in Decision No. CIC/SG/C/2011/000859/15305Penalty